New Delhi, May 17: Senior virologist Shahid Jameel has resigned from a forum of scientific advisers set up by the Government of India to detect variants of the coronavirus after questioning the authorities' way of handling of the pandemic.
"It's correct and I shall have nothing more to say," Dr Jameel, chair of the scientific advisory group of the forum known as INSACOG, said.
"I am not obliged to give a reason," he said in a text message to news agency Reuters adding that he quit on Friday.
Dr Jameel had recently written a piece in The New York Times in which he had said that scientists in India are facing a "stubborn response to evidence-based policy making."
He had pointed out issues with India's COVID-19 management, especially the lower testing, slow pace of vaccination, vaccine shortage and the need for a bigger healthcare workforce.
"All of these measures have wide support among my fellow scientists in India. But they are facing stubborn resistance to evidence-based policymaking," he wrote.
Noting gaps in the country's data-gathering, he said, "On April 30, over 800 Indian scientists appealed to the prime minister, demanding access to the data that could help them further study, predict and curb this virus."
"Decision-making based on data is yet another casualty, as the pandemic in India has spun out of control. The human cost we are enduring will leave a permanent scar," Dr Jameel wrote.
Reuters had reported earlier this month that Dr Jameel's INSACOG, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium, warned government officials in early March of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus taking hold in the country.
The variant, B.1.617, is one of the reasons India is currently battling the world's worst surge in COVID-19 cases that has killed thousands.
Even though India is the world's largest vaccine-producing nation, only 14.16 crore people have received at least one vaccine dose, or roughly 10 per cent of its population of 135 crore, according to health ministry data. The country has fully vaccinated just over 4 crore people or 2.9 per cent of its population.